Robert Warzycha: True Black and Gold

USA TODAY Sports

No person in Crew history has exemplified what it meant to be a member of the team. From veteran player to assistant and finally head coach, Robert Warzycha has been a constant fixture with the team since the inaugural season.

Today was momentous, a fixture of Crew soccer isn't anymore. Matt Bernhardt crunched the numbers, Wednesday's game will be only the 12th game without Robert Warzycha tied to the Crew in some way since the birth of the franchise in 1996, 644 games in all competitions.

Warzycha's tenure as head coach was mixed at best as he helmed the team to a Supporters Shield win in 2009 and three playoff appearances, but missed the playoffs last year and parted with the team in eighth place and likely to miss the playoff this year.

His track record as coach will overshadow the remarkable history Warzycha had with the team. At 33, he made the move to the United States towards the end of his pro career. His three seasons at Everton were behind him and he was toiling away with Honved, the once legendary Hungarian team when MLS called. He arrived to a team in disarray under an overwhelmed coach and then became part of the 1996 comeback team that went 9-1 to get into the playoffs under Tom Fitzgerald.

Warzycha would become a mainstay in the lineup of the great late 90's Crew teams that could score behind Brian McBride and Stern John and bruise their way to victory lead by the ironman Mike Clark. Warzycha would play seven years, score 19 goals and record 61 assists. He still has the all-time assists record for the club.

It would be off the field events that would link Warzycha to the Black and Gold. His younger son, Bartosz would be diagnosed with cancer in 1998 at the age of 8. Crew fans would open their arms to the transplants and raise over $60,000 for treatment. The moment would change the course of the Warzycha family. Rather than heading back to Europe, both Robert and his wife Elena became naturalized U.S. citizens in 2006. All three of Warzycha's children played soccer with Konrad breaking into MLS after a four year career at Ohio State.

Warzycha's legacy with the Crew will be complicated. He's proven himself as as great contributor to some great Crew teams as a player. He was there for the 2002 U.S. Open Cup win. He was an assistant during the wilderness years under Greg Andrulis and was part of the resurrection under Sigi Schmid. He is tied with the most coaching wins, with Fitzgerald, at 70.

After 18 years, no person epitomizes the Crew as much as Robert Warzycha; both triumphs and successes.

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